Reasons to Modify Child Custody in Alabama
In an ideal world, the final divorce decree would be the last word on the matter. You and your spouse would part, all legal and financial issues would be resolved, and the dictates of the court’s final order would carry forward. We do not, unfortunately, live in an ideal world, and circumstances change. If there are changes to your life and you need to re-evaluate the terms of your custody arrangement, you may be able to do so with the help of a seasoned and effective Alabama child custody lawyer. Below, we discuss the grounds for modifying a child custody order under Alabama law and the common situations that prompt such changes.
The Legal Standard for Modifying Child Custody in Alabama
To modify a court-ordered child custody arrangement, the party seeking the modification must satisfy a strong legal standard. The party seeking modification must demonstrate the following:
- There has been a material change in circumstances in the lives of either parent or the children since the judgment necessitating a change to the custody arrangement
- The child’s best interests will be promoted by changing custody
- The benefits of the change in custody will more than offset any disruption caused by the change in custody
The standard for modifying custody is purposely strict: Alabama courts believe that stability is most beneficial for children. Changes to custody are disruptive, so a party must show not only that the change would be for the better but that the advantages will be so great as to offset the negative effects of disruption.
Common Reasons for Modifying Custody
With that standard set, there are certain circumstances that Alabama courts often face when determining whether to modify custody. Common situations that lead to a modification of child custody include:
- One parent moves or plans to move far away or out of state
- One parent is so neglectful in their parental duties as to endanger the child’s welfare
- The child is in danger under the current custody arrangement due to drugs, alcohol, or domestic violence in the home of one parent
- A parent’s new job results in a new schedule incompatible with the current arrangement
- The non-custodial parent is now better equipped to handle joint custody (increased income, successful rehabilitation, release from incarceration)
- Death of the custodial parent
- One parent regularly refuses to adhere to the current parenting plan
A dedicated Alabama child custody attorney can help you seek a modification of your child custody arrangement or protect your existing arrangement against unjustified modification by your co-parent.